The Righteous Nature of Progression in Ring Strength
Written by Aush Chatman

The rings, see how they just hang there, quietly waiting for someone to grab them and finally use them for what they are designed for – to build unimaginable levels of strength and skill.

So next time you’re at the gym, why don’t you jump up there and get to it? Because YOU know there’s a catch. The rings know it too. There is a buy-in, an entrance fee. No mere mortal can just jump up on the rings and rip off a routine filled with exercises most people have never even heard of. Elevators, Muscle-Ups, Planche, Maltese, Victorian, Levers, the Iron Cross…

So like Blackstreet said, you gotta pay to play.

But what is the payment?


If you covet a smooth, effortless appearing muscle-up, we need to figure out the right payment plan to get it.

Thankfully many have gone before us and we can learn from failure and success alike. So here is my best practices progression ideology for Ring Strength development. Let me list them, then we can dive into each as we go along in the very near future. You’ll have enough to work on with these until then.

1. Impatience is “The Punisher”
2. Ring Strength Doesn’t Begin on the Rings & Everyone Needs Support
3. Get a Grip with your Feet Grounded (coming soon)
4. The Play as You Pay Option (coming soon)
5. Soreness is NOT a Unit of Measure (coming soon)


I’m a comic book nerd, and one of my all-time favorite “anti-heroes” is The Punisher.

We won’t deep dive too much but if you know Frank Castle’s (The Punisher) story, you’ll know it’s the classic revenge plot. Frank is driven by an insatiable desire to bring all violent criminals to swift and final Justice. My favorite encounters that are depicted in the old comics are the various storylines where The Punisher crosses paths with one of my other favorite heroes, Spider-Man! (Yeah we’re going deep, I lied, stay with me.)

Spider-Man is a hero’s hero. He too is driven by the desire to bring evil to justice, but he also is willing to work in the confines of a moral code. And to let the justice system of the land be the ultimate decider in a criminal’s fate. So while Frank is willing to shoot first ask questions later, Spidey will “web” a guy up and let the local authorities take him in to be brought to trial.

Thanks for letting me get that off!

Frank’s real issue is one of fear, but a particular kind of fear. A fear that shows itself as Impatience and all of us should identify, maybe not with shooting criminals, but with the nature of being impatient.

You see impatience is simply when the actual cost to reach a goal exceeds the perceived cost to reach the goal. Not just when the actual cost is higher, but when that leads us down a certain mental path.

In Frank’s case, he wants evil to be brought to justice, but he knows the legal system is slow and resolutions or outcomes aren’t always the outcome he would desire. Frank finds that unfair and it isn’t just that he doesn’t have the patience to see it through. He is afraid it won’t work, that the outcome will not only be too slow but wrong, so he takes matters into his own hands. Once he does that, the outcome is decided by him, he thinks he is in control. Unfortunately, this leads to other issues, notably the times where his involvement led to the direct genesis of a supervillain.

It is the same for us when we embark on our ring strength journey (or any journey for that matter). Impatience would have us live in the future, fearful of outcomes that don’t exist. Causing anxiety and worry. You may want your muscle-up by the end of 2019, but that may be a miscalculation, and you should be willing to adjust.

Our impatience is a fear of never attaining a desired outcome. When you first decide on a goal. “I want a ring muscle-up,” for instance, it is necessary to determine a few things.

  1. What is the cost to reach that goal
  2. How long should it take to reach the goal
  3. What are the practical steps to get me from where I am to achievement

And this is now the crucial point, this is where we must not fear. C.S. Lewis once said,

“The duty of planning tomorrow’s work is today’s duty; though its material is borrowed from the Future, the duty, like all duties, is in the Present.”  

So, in other words, even though we have a goal or the desired outcome we don’t live in that reality. Our reality is the present, so we must stay present mentally and use the goal as our course correction on a daily basis to make sure we are still moving in the right direction CURRENTLY.

Ring Strength Doesn’t Begin on the Rings

The rings are a dynamic apparatus. Many (but not all) of the early skills we want to master on the rings should first be mastered on a static apparatus: on the floor or high bar or parallel bars.

This will help us to develop the connective tissue strength demanded by the rings in a safe and controlled environment.

Fundamentally we need a robust understanding of the straight arm plank, hollow hold and its evil twin the arch hold. Mastery of these positions is non negotiable. Spend time learning these and gaining strength in them.

Maybe you are thinking the rings are beyond your capacity. News for you, if you can straight arm plank, hollow, and arch, you are already working on ring strength! You just didn’t know it. So no negative self talk about this not being “for you”. YOU are already in it…

Everyone Needs Support

The first skill we need on the rings to progress to any meaningful skill is a SOLID ring support.

Ring support is holding your body weight off the ground with arms fully extended and body hollow i.e. the top of a dip.

Before we even touch the rings, we should have this mastered on the parallel bars (ring strength doesn’t begin on the rings remember), at Invictus the matadors are great for this.

Mastery for us will be defined as 5 sets of 30 seconds, with no more than 30 seconds of rest between sets. This standard serves as our “test out”. After demonstrating the ability to hold a matador support for the requisite sets and duration, then and only then should we approach the rings.

Start slow with 3-4 sets and slowly work your way up to the standard. While the standard is no more than 30 seconds of rest, this is also a capacity that must be progressed to. This is strength work. Longer rest periods may be necessary and are perfectly acceptable as you begin the journey.

Once you attain MASTERY of the Matador support, you may begin to touch the rings and work on the Ring Support. Some of you reading this may already have a muscle-up or even higher skills. I HIGHLY recommend you test out of the Ring Support Mastery I will describe below. If you fail the test – that is very useful information for you – it means there are holes in your ring strength that you are wise to shore up.

Ring Support Mastery

5 sets of 30 seconds (ahh familiar). With, you guessed it, 30 seconds of rest between sets.

The great news is, because you properly paid for your chance at ring support with smart progression, you won’t be unprepared to jump up on the rings at all that first day. And that feeling, of being prepared for the next step is powerful. It will give you confidence and validate the sweat equity you put in. It will mean an exponentially smaller risk of injury. I hope you get a chance to experience this, it will help shift your mindset from the injury prone “I need it now” mentality to one of patience and persistence.

If you need help formulating a plan for building your matador or ring support, ask your Invictus coach of choice. I am of course available to help you design a plan so feel free to reach out!


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